Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “If This Is a Man / The Truce” as Want to Read:
If This Is a Man / The Truce
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

If This Is a Man / The Truce (Auschwitz Trilogy #1-2)

4.53  ·  Rating Details  ·  8,163 Ratings  ·  417 Reviews
'With the moral stamina and intellectual poise of a twentieth-century Titan, this slightly built, dutiful, unassuming chemist set out systematically to remember the German hell on earth, steadfastly to think it through, and then to render it comprehensible in lucid, unpretentious prose. He was profoundly in touch with the minutest workings of the most endearing human event ...more
Paperback, 419 pages
Published 1987 by Abacus (first published July 26th 1979)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about If This Is a Man / The Truce, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about If This Is a Man / The Truce

The Name of the Rose by Umberto EcoThe Divine Comedy by Dante AlighieriThe Leopard by Giuseppe Tomasi di LampedusaIf on a Winter's Night a Traveler by Italo CalvinoThe Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio
Notable Novels by Italian Authors
13th out of 241 books — 178 voters
The Book Thief by Markus ZusakThe Diary of a Young Girl by Anne FrankNight by Elie WieselThe Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John BoyneNumber the Stars by Lois Lowry
Well-Written Holocaust Books
75th out of 546 books — 2,244 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Paul Bryant
Nov 24, 2009 Paul Bryant rated it it was amazing
“However this war may end, we have won the war against you. None of you will be left to bear witness, but even if someone were to survive, the world would not believe him. There will be perhaps suspicions, discussions, research by historians, but there will be no certainties, because we will destroy the evidence together with you. And even if some proof should remain and some of you survive, people will say that the events you describe are too monstrous to be believed – they will say they are th ...more
Aug 20, 2009 Sofia rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Sofia by: André
It is hard for me to translate my experience of this book to words. It's not that my feelings are ambiguous, or even that I can't find the right words; my problem is that it created such an emotional and intellectual response from me, that I'm finding it difficult to know where to start, or how much of it really belongs in a review.

This is actually two books in one: "If This is a Man" recounts Primo Levi's experience of entering and living on one of the Auschwitz concentration camps, and "The Tr
Feb 15, 2012 Shovelmonkey1 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone - we all need to read this book
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: 1001 books list
Philip Roth called this "One of the century's truly necessary books". Primo Levi's description of surviving in the arbeitlager at Auschwitz-Buna is the story of human tenacity and the determination to find a way to survive in the face of incomprehensible and overwhelming odds. Reading this book and books such as Fateles by Imres Kerstz give an incomparable picture of the atrocities commited in Germany and Poland by the Nazis. These activities were facilitated in part by a Europe which couldn't o ...more
Jan 05, 2008 Elena added it
This book is beyond any possible rating. It is, I believe, the book that says the definitive word about holocaust and about human cruelty. After this, nothing else can be said and no explanation can be given to what men can do to other men.
Ne pas chercher à comprendre
Quanto è avvenuto non si può comprendere, non si deve comprendere, perché comprendere è quasi giustificare… Ma se comprendere è impossibile, conoscere è necessario.

Non trovo parole adeguate per esprimere il mio commento a questa testimonianza di Primo Levi. Colpisce la razionalità di questo grande Uomo, che non indugia in giudizi e accuse, non usa toni recriminatori né accattivanti, non cerca pathos. Non è necessario. Applica il semplice metodo scientifico, cui la s
Aug 18, 2013 Pink rated it really liked it
This isn't really a book that can be rated. However, since that's how we catalogue our books here on Good Reads, I'm giving it 4 stars - not 5, but just because I wouldn't want to read it again and I can't honestly say it's one of my favourite ever books. Otherwise it's 10 stars.

I was going to start this review with quotes from the book. However, after telling my Mother how good it was when she called round this afternoon, she appears to have left with it. I text her that its like living in Aus
Jul 30, 2014 umberto rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
Reading this epic-like memoir, his first-hand accounts as one of the prisoners-of-war detained in a camp at Auschwitz as a legacy of World War II by Primo Levi was stunningly descriptive, inhumane and hopeful. My background reading was that I nearly finished reading its first part, "If This is a Man," depicting his arrest in late 1943 and his life along the ruthless route to the notorious camp at Auschwitz where he survived because the authority there needed his expertise as a chemist. Then I qu ...more
This book includes the two books Survival in Auschwitz and The Reawakening by Primo Levi. The American and European publications have employed different titles. The book ends with an excellent "Afterword". This too is written by the author. I recommend this edition.

This book is quite different from other holocaust books, by its very lack of emotion. It is a clear statement of what exactly happened to the author, both in the camp (If This is a Man) and afterwards on his travels home to Turin, Ita
Rick Slane
If I could I would make this book required reading for everyone over 18. It's not that long and it's not that depressing. Levi recounts events that must not be forgotten, but he does so with a spirit and humanity that I have never found in other prisoner of war type stories.
Sep 09, 2011 Tom rated it it was amazing
I was bought this as a Christmas present from a friend and was told simply: "No one should go on without heaving read this book". Now, I've read a few books on concentration camps (and have also visited Auschwitz and Birkenau in Poland) and wasn't convinced that another account of this atrocity should be on my 'to read' list.

I did, however, give it a go and I'm so glad I did. From start to finish Primo kept me drawn in by his fantastic use of language and the way he can put a very human face to
Nov 16, 2009 Arjen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-dutch
Impressive recount of a Jewish prisoner's days in Auschwitz and his journey home. I liked the dry, observant style. The author does not show hate for his tortures, just describes the facts. The reader is the judge.

The passage which made the biggest impression on me is where Levi talks about the camp musicians, playing the same songs everyday when the slaves go out to and come back from work. Levi writes that even years later, hearing these innocent songs made the blood freeze in the bodies of th
Antonio Rosato
Apr 05, 2016 Antonio Rosato rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Due colossali opere racchiuse in un unico libro che altro non è che la sconvolgente e struggente testimonianza, raccontata in prima persona, del ritorno a casa di Primo Levi (e del suo peregrinare in giro per l'Europa) dai campi di concentramento nazisti. Bisogna leggerlo per capire (almeno in parte e per quanto possibile) come può un uomo privato di tutto, anche e soprattutto della sua dignità, riuscire a perdonare i suoi carnefici e a fare ogni sforzo affinché non venga dimenticato ciò che è s ...more
Sep 10, 2015 Iris rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own
Vital reading for all humans.
Oct 13, 2010 Charlotte rated it it was amazing
I read this book as an undergraduate in 1992, and in those days had the luxury of suiting myself timewise... I started in the morning and read through the day: I don't think I moved from my sagging armchair until it was too dark to read, and I had to get another loo roll for soaking up the copious weeping.

Nearly twenty years on, the narrative still haunts me: it's every bit as breathtaking in translation as in the original, which is truly rare. This is a desert island book that I would never le
Faith McLellan
Jan 25, 2013 Faith McLellan rated it it was amazing
The second or third or fourth time I have read it. One of the most important works of the 20th century. Still stunned by how people keep on going, in the face of a bottomless abyss. Exhilarating, inspirational, full of an unfathomable spirit.
Sep 05, 2013 Carlos rated it it was amazing
Este es un libro que hay que leer aunque a veces falten fuerzas. Lamento haber llegado a él ahora. Nunca es tarde, pero es un libro que leer cuando uno es joven y está seguro de todo; porque Levi arrasa, con prosa sorprendentemente suave, todas las convicciones.

Hasta leerlo, viendo películas o visitando memoriales dedicados al Holocausto, uno llega a pensar que Exterminio es un concepto cuantitativo, terrible en su dimensión, pero estático. El horror que eso puede comunicar es limitado. La memo
Claire McAlpine
Feb 18, 2015 Claire McAlpine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, classic
An extraordinary witness to events and sharing of observations of humankind without judgement or condemnation. An important narrative that reminds us to continue and perhaps forever pay close attention to whom we support, for it is not true that we learn from the mistakes of others, we must be wary of in whom we place our trust and bestow leadership.

My complete review here at Word by Word.
Apr 24, 2015 Inês rated it it was amazing
Foi um dos livros mais duros que tive a felicidade de ler. Sou "fã" de livros que me mostram os vários lados da Segunda Guerra Mundial; tenho um carinho enorme por Anne Frank e o seu diário; mas este, talvez por a ação ser dentro de um campo de trabalho, tocou-me de uma forma que outro livro há muito não o fazia.

É a história de Levi. É a sua vida, naquele ano em que teve a (in)felicidade de ser mandado para um campo de trabalho. E conseguiu sobreviver, contra todas as expectativas. E apesar de
How could this be anything but harrowing? And yet the author has survived, kept some portion of humanity about him, the tiniest shred. Necessary.
May 20, 2014 Ugh rated it it was amazing
I read this for a number of reasons: because I thought The Periodic Table was superb, because I wanted to read about Levi's experiences in writing of that quality, because I wanted to see whether I could apply any of the wisdom Levi gleaned from his experiences to my own existence, because I wanted to see whether Levi did something similar, and because I wanted to read Levi's thoughts about the wider context of his and other people's treatment.

Some of those reasons were based on the ill-thought-
Julie Rylie
Feb 15, 2015 Julie Rylie rated it it was amazing
This book is one of the best books I’ve read so far, and every day you just want to get more and more involved with Levi. As he said, this book is not only a way of stating the atrocities committed by the nazis in the WWII but also to show us the life in the Lager and how to survive, or not, in it.
And the most interesting part is something that I’ve not seen so far in books about concentration camps… He tells us about how people, when faced with such difficulties, become animals.

First you star
Aug 21, 2012 Gerard rated it it was amazing
I have wanted to read Primo Levi’s Se questo è un uomo (If this is a human being) for a long time, and it has not let me down. This is the account of an Italian Jewish intellectual who spent the last year and a half of WWII in Buna, a camp near Auschwitz, and describes the ways in which Levi attempts to maintain his vitality and dignity in the gruesome conditions of Nazi suppression. There is a constantly sharp division but also correlation between physical duress and mental endurance, as well a ...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
Survival in Auschwitz; And, the Reawakening: Two Memoirs (Auschwitz Trilogy #1-2), Primo Levi, Stuart J. Woolf (Translator)
Mar 08, 2013 Carla added it
Não vou classificar este livro.
É um testemunho real, cruel e devastador, logo não tem classificação possível.
Recomendo todas as pessoas a lerem este testemunho, não só para saber um pouco mais do quotidiano nos
campos de concentração, mas sobretudo saber um pouco mais sobre a condição humana.
É realmente deprimente saber o que um ser humano consegue fazer quando cego por algo, credo ou ideia, a pura maldade humana.
Também e não menos deprimente é a transformação dos seres civilizados e livres em an
David Thrale
Oct 31, 2014 David Thrale rated it it was amazing
Shelves: shoah, history
How can I even think that I can pass judgement on this in a literary sense? It would be wrong.

Quite simply the rawest and most moving book I have ever - and probably will ever - read. Not just because of the personal experiences that Primo describes, but also for the inconceivable way in which he rises above the inconceivable evil.

The end of the books contains a list of the questions he was often asked after writing the book and his answer that he doesn't hate Germans because that is the root of
Becky Austin
Sep 02, 2012 Becky Austin rated it it was amazing
I feel that this is one book I have read where it seems wrong to rate it out of 5 stars or if one was to, how can you give it less than 5? I wouldn't say I enjoyed this book; that seems too trivial. I found it hard work and painful but necessary. Some parts left me astounded by the beauty of language or his consideration of the futility of language to convey the experience of Auschwitz. It felt at times that I was watching myself read this book and monitor my reactions, feeling guilty at how har ...more
Aug 30, 2015 Cosey rated it it was amazing
Waanzinnig verhaal, zo brutaal en onthutsend dat je bijna zou denken dat het fictie is. Prachtig neergeschreven getuigenis van een pikzwarte, totaal onmenselijke bladzijde uit onze geschiedenis, die we nooit, maar dan ook nooit mogen vergeten. Verplichte lectuur voor iedereen. “We cannot understand [Fascism], but we can and must understand from where it springs, and we must be on our guard...because what happened can happen again...For this reason, it is everyone's duty to reflect on what happen ...more
Michael Bacon
Mar 12, 2015 Michael Bacon rated it it was amazing
It seems that Levi was well aware when writing this book the difficulty he and other Holocaust survivors would have simply getting people to believe that the horrific scenes described really happened. His book demonstrates that, time and again, even the minds of those suffering reeled away from the magnitude of what was happening to them. It seems the human mind simply isn't constructed in a way that can allow a conception of total suffering and degradation to exist. Levi tells us that it is thi ...more
Tabitha McGowan
Oct 24, 2014 Tabitha McGowan rated it it was amazing
I can't believe I haven't rated this before now. I first read this book when I was a new mother, and there is a particular scene that describes a mother using hot water from the train engine that was transporting her family to Auschwitz, to wash her little girl before they arrived so that she was clean and cared for in the midst of such horror. That image stayed with me each and every time I bathed my own daughter, and so it should.
Jul 11, 2015 Marije rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
If This Is a Man
Many people - many nations - can find themselves holding, more or less wittingly, that 'every stranger is an enemy'. For the most part this conviction lies deep down like some latent infection; it betrays itself only in random, disconnected acts, and does not lie at the base of a system of reason. But when this does come about, when the unspoken dogma becomes the major premiss in a syllogism, then, at the end of the chain, there is the Lager. Here is the product of
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Il partigiano Johnny
  • Christ Stopped at Eboli: The Story of a Year
  • The Cap: The Price Of A Life
  • The Origins of the Final Solution: The Evolution of Nazi Jewish Policy, September 1939-March 1942
  • The Destruction of the European Jews
  • The Viceroys
  • The Garden of the Finzi-Continis
  • La vita agra
  • Il Giornalino di Gian Burrasca
  • Il sergente nella neve
  • Elli: Coming of Age in the Holocaust
  • The Moon and the Bonfire
  • La ragazza di Bube
  • Into That Darkness: An Examination of Conscience
  • That Awful Mess on the Via Merulana
  • MetaMaus: A Look Inside a Modern Classic, Maus
  • Reeds in the Wind
  • Auschwitz and After
Primo Michele Levi (Italian: [ˈpriːmo ˈlɛːvi]; 31 July 1919 – 11 April 1987) was an Italian chemist and writer. He was the author of several books, novels, collections of short stories, essays, and poems. His best-known works include If This Is a Man (1947), his account of the year he spent as a prisoner in the Auschwitz concentration camp in Nazi-occupied Poland; and his unique work, The Periodic ...more
More about Primo Levi...

Other Books in the Series

Auschwitz Trilogy (4 books)
  • Survival in Auschwitz
  • The Reawakening
  • The Drowned and the Saved
  • Moments of Reprieve (Penguin Modern Classics)

Share This Book

“I am constantly amazed by man's inhumanity to man.” 163 likes
“A country is considered the more civilised the more the wisdom and efficiency of its laws hinder a weak man from becoming too weak and a powerful one too powerful.” 36 likes
More quotes…